by Jerry Vovcsko
Back in the day, when hardy sailors went to sea under sail, the lookout stationed aloft kept a wary eye out for whales, reefs and other ships. But after a few hours spent scanning the empty horizon, a bored seaman's eye – and imagination - might wander a bit and it was then that legend had it a mermaid sighting might take place. Nobody mistook the creature that wandered into Cape waters last month for a mermaid even though manatees are rarely sighted this far north.
An animal rescue crew last week finally wrangled the elusive manatee that has been spotted around Cape Cod since August, plucking the animal from the cooling waters that had placed it in mortal danger as autumn set in. International Fund for Animal Welfare workers, who had spotted the roughly 1,000-pound male on Thursday morning, followed it into an East Falmouth estuary, corralled it with a net, and pulled it onto a beach.
There, the crew loaded it onto a boat and brought it to nearby Menauhant Yacht Club, where it will be placed on a trailer bound for Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium. Once it's deemed in good health, it will be taken back to Florida, possibly by airplane. This rescue actually saved two manatees as it was later determined that it was pregnant.
This time of year it's not a bad idea to seek out sheltered waters to find fish. One good tactic is to head for Cape Cod Bay and scout around some of the places that might not get as much attention as, say, Vineyard Sound or the Elizabeth Islands. Just east of the Town of Sandwich anglers can often find some action around the mouth of Scorton Creek. The creek flows under route 6A and there's a parking lot down near the creek mouth.
Catch a tide as it starts to flood, launch canoe or kayak and let the current take you up into the marsh. Make it a leisurely paddle or just drift along casting toward the banks on both sides. Suitable lures for this type fishing include pretty much anything in the small jig and plastic grouping, or maybe a three and a half inch swimming plug such as a Rebel or Rapala design. Light spinning gear is my choice for this type of fishing but lots of folks use the long wand and Clousers seem to be the fly of choice for them. Anyplace you spot even the tiniest rip is worth a look and deep pools near undercut embankments occasionally hold keeper sized striped bass.
One of the best things about fishing this location is getting a chance to see an amazing variety of wildlife around the marsh. Fox, deer, muskrat, mink owls, herons, hawks and the occasional coyote or eagle make time spent up in the backwaters of the creek a refreshing change from the daily grind of urban living. Stop and eat the sandwich you packed and when the tide turns let the current carry you back to where you parked. I consider the Scorton Creek estuary to be one of the all-around best fishing excursions available on the Cape, second only to the run down along the Elizabeth Islands.
Another similar location lies a few miles to the east in Brewster. Paine's Creek also empties into Cape Cod Bay and while it doesn't offer the same degree of tidal creek access to the marsh as Scorton's Creek, there's still lively action to be had at the mouth for spin, fly and bait fishermen alike. A nearby parking lot makes access convenient and a walk along the beach puts surfcasters in proximity with the Brewster Flats. Bluefish cruise these parts on a regular basis and it's not all that unusual to latch onto a ten-pound blue while fishing for stripers.
Between Sandwich and Brewster, Corporation Beach is home to an ample supply of tautog and the boulders and ledges that litter the bottom here make it very attractive to a resident lobster population. But keep a vigilant eye out for those white-with-red-stripe "Diver Down" flags that the Scuba crowd sets out when they're in the vicinity. For some reason these folks get a bit testy when an angler sets a 5/0 Siwash hook in a diver's thigh or arm.
And if by chance a fisherman launches his boat from the Sandwich marina, the entire shoreline from the Canal to Brewster to Wellfleet is prime territory for tube and worm fishing. Anyplace you can get your tube rig down in eight to twelve feet of water is likely to deliver good results. And if you head over toward Wellfleet Harbor don't forget to spend a little time around the mouth of the Herring River, especially if you find yourself on site around dusk or dawn.
As local waters cool, the best places to take stripers include the shoreline along the Elizabeth Islands, the flats around Monomoy Island, the rock ledges inside Woods Hole and, of course, the Cape Cod Canal. The funny fish continue to roam Nantucket Sound and the area out in front of Lackey's Bay is prime bonito territory right now.
The weather forecasts for this weekend are telling us it will be windy and wet with heavy surf and waves around the big islands in the five to seven-foot range. We're running out of time these days so grab any chance to wet a line when conditions allow; the fat lady will soon be singing farewell as the stripers head south and another striped bass season comes to a halt in Cape waters.